Oracle dumped on HP (and Intel) this week by dropping future development for the Itanium processor, the mainstay of HP’s Integrity line of servers. This started a back and forth to-do between the two competitors that brings LOL tears to my eyes. Why? Because the computer industry has been too stodgy over the past decade since the Internet Bubble burst in 2001.
It used to be this tussle all the time in the computer industry! I had forgotten how much fun it was to be a bystander.
So, to the question of the day: will Intel kill off Itanium like Oracle claims?
No, there are two more generations of new Itanium processors under development, says Intel. Beyond that, I say, there’s no public roadmap for Itanium or any other Intel processor. Itanium generations are slower than most processor generations because datacenter IT managers want slow change and great stability in their purchases. There’s as much visibility on Itanium as can be expected.
How will anybody know when Itanium is headed for sunset? I’d say to watch for engineer defections followed by outright layoffs at Intel’s design labs in lovely Fort Collins, Colorado. That’s the hub of things Itanium.
What started all this? Oracle, which now owns server maker Sun, has been trying to make life miserable for competitor HP since the Sun acquisition closed last year. And especially since ex-HP CEO Mark Hurd joined Oracle last September.
The reality is that Intel’s widely used Xeon datacenter servers are much closer in performance to Itanium and getting closer every year. IT departments don’t need me to tell them that. But HP continues to ride the Itanium horse, with good-enough success.
For those enterprises invested in Itanium, I can see no compelling reason to change server architectures over the next three years.